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The Orthodox Church and gay marriage


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#21 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 09:19 PM

Dear Edward,

I think that this issue is complex in the sense that it is not easy to make a clear-cut distinction between the civil & theological. First of all many homosexuals do try to justify themselves by an appeal to what is 'natural'. Because they feel that their 'lifestyle' is natural & proper from this they make the argument that it should also be legally approved. Thus they make the same moral-legal linkage that we as Christians do.

I believe that we can see this in practice as many homosexuals try to obtain a union not only civilly but also religiously. Is this not why they use the word marriage when it could as easily be called a union? Indeed in those countries where homosexual union has been denied the status of marriage it is assumed that marriage is a union of a special, unique category- which is partly what homosexuals are reacting against. In other words homosexuals want not only an equal civil union in the eyes of the law & state. They want a union that is seen as being morally equal to marriage. It is precisely in this area that I believe that homosexual marriage impinges on what is theological & of the Church.

The second part of your post also brings up important points- I will try to get to them later.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#22 Owen Jones

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 10:05 PM

This debate is not a debate between Christian "values" and secular "values." That is a nihilistic way of looking at it. There is a tension between the sacred and secular, Church and state, just as there always has been and always will be. This tension existed during the period of Christian Empire. It is a necessary and healthy tension in which the boundaries are always being tested. But in the West today, there is a faction that is living parasitically off of the civilization that they are systematically trying to destroy. Christians have not only the right to speak out in defense of Christian civilization, while they are still free to do so, but an obligation, at the risk of public persecution, which is indeed happening. That, of course, is a practical consideration from the Christian standpoint. But that is not the only point to be made. People in vast numbers are killing themselves through sexual excess, and, of course, we are blamed for it, and forced to pay for the medical cost of that excess, and then told to shut up and not moralize. The issue is no different than the abortion issue. It is the idea that Christian Orthodoxy is bad for people because it deprives them of their freedom. Which is a false premise. We cannot allow such lies to be broadcast throughout the land without defending Christian truth, especially when many millions of lives are at stake. The freedom to kill yourself and others through sexual excess, or to kill your unborn baby because it becomes a nuisance, is not freedom at all. It is slavery to demonic forces. This needs to be spoken of. It can be done forcefully AND with love at the same time. But the truth is hard for most people to bear.

Then there is the slippery slope. As soon as the U.S. Supreme Court banned all laws against Sodomy, Justice Scalia said that it would mean that we would be forced to permit pedophilia and incest. That's next, believe me.

Finally, it would be incorrect to use a term such as homosexuals in a political context, as if they all want the same thing. Most homosexuals living together don't want it to be apublic thing. Such people are not harrassed and persecuted. The ones demanding legal marriage are frankly not doing so because of the property issue. That is a red herring. They demand it, as a right, as a justification of their so-called lifestyle. It is a bad-faith argument, just as were the arguments in favor of perpetuating slavery. Such arguments prey on the natural sense of fair play that people have in a liberal society, who are incapable of thinking through an issue to its natural conclusions. Many people believed that slavery is simply part of the natural order of things. They appealed philosophically to God and nature as a defense of slavery, and got away with it for thousands of years. Therefore, people have a right to have slaves, just as a man has a right to have multiple sex partners of the same sex, infect them with a dreaded disease, kill them, with absolutely no consequences, and then you are I are blamed for it, because of our narrow minded-ness, as if that caused it, and we are forced to pay for their medical treatments. That's freedom? No, it is the worst form of primitive superstition and tribalism, no different than what prevails in Africa, where it is believed that people get AIDS because of the evil eye placed upon them, and the way to purify themselves is to have sex with a ten year old virgin.


#23 Eugene

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 10:46 PM

Owen, you wrote: "It is slavery to demonic forces. This needs to be spoken of." Being a Christian, I totally agree with you, but how can you use this argument to convince someone who don't even believe in demons? Atheists don't even understand what we are talking about (well, they think they understand, but they don't). Yet, we still have to speak about it openly, and to use our voting rights. It's democracy after all.


#24 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 11:49 PM

To continue...

The relationship between Church & state even in the days of Orthodox monarchy was ambiguous. With the rise of the secular state this relationship is even more so. However there are two constants I think we need to keep in mind. One is that in a relative sense we are called as Christians to feel a loyalty to our country & to care for its well-being; the other is that at least until recently the state did uphold a relative moral order which we were at home with.

Now however the relationship is even more ambiguous. The modern state increasingly draws on its secular roots. Secularism is its own 'logic', and in this sense we should not be shocked when we are told that the moral standards that govern the state change.
On the other hand how can we not as Christians feel concerned for the moral state of the country we live in? The irony is that as the secularist makes his appeal under the banner "each man alone defines his values", the Christian replies "no man is an island." Thus society's values are seen to be inherently anti-social while the Christian who is critical of society prays for its unity.

In any case as we said it seems only proper that the Christian will care about the moral state of his society. This in some cases will even top the issue of liberty. For instance those in favour of abortion will also appeal to liberty. But having passed laws all through the west legalising abortion there is an abiding sorrow from Christians for what we have done. We rightly feel that it is a stain & wound on the fabric of our society.

Personally I think we should examine under the spotlight of the Church whether homosexuality is a true relationship as it claims to be. Is it really love? If not, what is it based on? What society accepts as relationship obviously goes to the very heart of how it defines itself as a society. For it goes to the heart of what that society means by relationship, of what defines relationship.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#25 Owen Jones

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Posted 12 December 2004 - 12:24 AM

Actually, the Symposium gives a brilliant presentation on misdirected love (Eros) which is what sex generally is, but especially sex with the same sex. It's virtually a Christian treatise on the subject of love, without carrying the "baggage" of Christian dogma that so many people are afraid of these days. The only difference is that Diotema the prophetess revealed this to Plato. Although we would say it was Christ revealing it. But it's patristic in almost every other sense. The problem is that people generally don't respond to philosophical arguments either!!!!


#26 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 12 December 2004 - 03:31 PM

Dear Edward, just a brief message to say that it is very nice indeed to see you back here again.

INXC, Matthew


#27 George Hawkins

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Posted 13 December 2004 - 12:03 AM

yes, NZ has just passed a "Civil Union" bill. I think it is more to do with next-of-kin rights than anything else, and the majority of people it affects would be people living in a de facto relationship, but why they don't just get married is beyond me - what is lacking in their relationship that it can not be formalised, after all, you don't have to get married in a Chuch in this country. That being said, it also recognises same sex relationships, which is a big worry, as the next logical progression is of course marriage, and there are a few MPs that would support it (though not many, and i don't think the public would accept it yet, but it's only a matter of time.)

I don't understand why it is seen as a natural behaviour, when other behaviours are (rightly) seen as abnormal, yet the person perpetrating them might well feel it is part of their nature and something inbuilt. Aside from more 'adult' examples, what about things like kleptomania. Should we provide special shops where kleptomaniacs can go and steal things, it is part of their nature, and to persecute them for stealing would seriously infringe on their human rights! But we don't provide shops for them, instead we try and help them. Quite stealthily, over the last few decades homosexuality has gone from being viewed as something wrong as to being something quite acceptable....Posted Image

#28 Moses Anthony

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Posted 13 December 2004 - 02:50 AM

Dear Evgeny,

In response to your post #26, in which you responded to Owen, I submit this answer: "...The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will." Said another way that reads, "A Christian must put the Gospel message on a loop, for all those who do not know the truth."

We must take a stand -which will always be in the public square- not despairing of the persecution and indifference which will come.

There are those who will say -in this politically correct atmosphere- that drug addiction and homosexuality are caused by a particular gene, and so think to silence with science, those who're of faith saying that such things are sin. We however, must not give ground. Yes some will perish without the God we know, love and live for, and others will become fellow travellers on the road to deification.

(Forgive me, but that for some reason made me think of the Bob Hope, Bing Crosby movies)

the sinful and unworthy servant
Moses

#29 Eugene

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Posted 13 December 2004 - 02:52 AM

"Quite stealthily, over the last few decades homosexuality has gone from being viewed as something wrong as to being something quite acceptable."


I think, George, that's because secular society totally lost any concept of sin, so it looks at things from the perspective of whether it's harmful for others or not, and harm is considered only from legal and materialistic point of view - the concept of moral or spiritual harm has been gradually dismissed. So, pushed by gay activists and their propaganda, the society gradually stopped considering homosexuality as being harmful. I expect we will be seeing more of this trend in the future, groups of people with all sorts of addictions wil start claiming that their addictions are harmless for the society and because of that the society and the law should not consider their addictions as something illegal, bad and harmful.

#30 Clare

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 08:46 AM

I just skim-read this discussion but the other day I came across a response to this question that quoted every single mention in the Bible. Here it is.

On the Coptic Orthodox Church Network is a lecture given by H.H. Pope Shenouda III on Homosexuality.
http://tasbeha.org/c...fwom/index.html

LECTURE
HOMOSEXUALITY
I am very glad to have the opportunity to speak to the ministers
of the Church of England. I mean, to speak to the angels of the
Church and the ministers of our Lord; those who were
mentioned in the Book of Revelation as stars in the right hand
of our Lord.
I thank God that He has given me the opportunity to speak to
those to whom the Lord said: "You shall be witnesses to Me."
(Acts 1:8). `Witnesses to Me', that means, witnesses to the
truth; to the Holy Bible; to the commandments of God; and to
what the Holy Spirit has passed on to the Churches.
I want to speak to you about numerous things, and if you would
like a discussion about a particular issue, I am willing to discuss
it with you.
The Holiness Of The Church
The first matter is the holiness of the Church. In the holy
Creed we say: "We believe in one holy Church". This holy
Church is Apostolic and Universal. In the Apostolic age, all
believers were called saints. A believer in the teachings of the
Bible means a saint, because we are sanctified with faith,

sanctified in baptism, sanctified in the holy Chrism, and
sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
We are not merely human beings, we are temples of the Holy
Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is abiding in us, as it is written in the
First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapters 3 and 6. As temples of
the Holy Spirit, we should have communion with the Holy
Spirit. The work of a believer is not simply the work of an
individual, but rather the work of the Holy Spirit itself in that
person, who is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
We are also the image of God, and we project to the world
the image of God. The world sees in our conduct and in our
behaviour what demonstrates that we are really children of God.
At the beginning of the Epistles of Saint Paul to the Romans, he
writes: "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an
Apostle, separated to the gospel of God.. to all who are in
Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints" (Rom. 1: 1,7).
Also, in another Epistle, he writes: "To the church of God
which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called to be saints" (1Cor. 1: 2). Further still, in the Second
Epistle, he says: "To the church of God which is at Corinth,
with all the saints who are in all Achaia " (2Cor. 1: 1).
When he writes to Ephesus, he sends his greetings to all the
saints in Ephesus, and to the Philippians he does the same.
Again, when he writes to the Hebrews, for example, in chapter
3, he writes to those who are called to the Divine Call, who are
also saints.
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If we are supposed to be saints, then how must we behave,
and, more importantly, how can we convey that holy
Image to the world?
In the Apostolic age, not everyone was allowed to enter the
Church. Only those who were worthy could attend the holy
Eucharist and partake in the Blood and Body of our Lord Jesus
Christ. This holy life is what we are called to, because we are
the children of a holy Father. Saint Peter speaks about this
point and says: "...as obedient children, not conforming
yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He
who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy '" (1Pet. 1: 14-16),
and this was written in Leviticus (Lev. 11: 44).
Holy people do not live in the lust of the flesh, but they
behave according to the Spirit.
A holy person has two characteristics. The first is that his flesh
is guided by the spirit; by his human spirit. And the second is
that his spirit, his human spirit, is guided by the Spirit of God.
So the Spirit of God is guiding the whole person; guiding both
the spirit and the body, and hence that person should be holy in
spirit and in body.
Let me read some verses from chapter 8 of the Epistle of Saint
Paul to the Romans about the body and the spirit. The holy
Apostle says: "There is therefore now no condemnation to
those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to
the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8: 1). And in
verse 5, he says: "For those who live according to the flesh set
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their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live
according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be
carnal minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and
peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is
not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Rom. 8: 5-
7). And then he says: "... if Christ is in you, the body is dead
because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness "
(Rom. 8: 10). Then he says: "Therefore, brethren, we are
debtors- not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if
you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit
you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as
many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God"
(Rom. 8:12-14). Here, Saint Paul depicts the sons of God as
those who are led by the Spirit of the Lord.
Let me now venture to speak about a subject that is rather
contentious, and is currently quite outspread, and that needs the
grace of our Lord to be overcome; this subject of
homosexuality. I am sorry to even have to speak about this
issue, it should not be a matter of discussion.
Homosexuality Is Against Nature
Homosexuality is against nature because sexual relations are
permitted only within the confines of marriage, and marriage is
only permitted between a man and a woman, male and female.
Hence, any sexual conduct outside these confines can only be
described as an abnormality; an act against nature.
When our Lord Jesus Christ discussed the issue of
Homosexuality with the scribes and Pharisees, as written in the
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Gospel of Saint Matthew chapter 19 and the Gospel of Saint
Mark chapter 10, He said: "From the beginning.. God 'made
them male and female '", man and woman. This is the proper
way of nature and the will of our Lord form the beginning of
creation.
But when people behaved according to the lust of the flesh in
the Old Testament, they received severe punishment from God,
as at the time of the Flood when only the pure, the eight people
in Noah's Ark, were saved, and all others perished. Also the
people of Sodom, who were unclean, were burned with fire.
They also behaved according to the lust of the flesh, the lust of
the body; they were unclean in their spirit.
Homosexuals Shall Not Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven
Carnal people cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. We read
this in the Book of Revelation, chapter 21, where it speaks
about the heavenly Jerusalem and says: "But there shall by no
means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination"
(Rev. 21: 27).
Homosexuals Were Punished By Death
We read that homosexuality is a kind of abomination which in
the Old Testament was punishable by death. If we, for example,
read Leviticus, chapter 18, verse 22, God says: "You shall not
lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination." And
also in the Book of Leviticus, chapter 20, verse 13, "If a man
lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have
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committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death.
Their blood shall be upon them."
Homosexuality Condemned In The New Testament
Of course, the New Testament is no less pure than the Old
Testament. So we find at least four examples against
homosexuality. In Romans chapter one, in the First Epistle to
the Corinthians chapter 6, in the Epistle of Saint Jude, and in
the Epistle to Timothy. I will now read some of these verses to
remind us of the teachings of the Holy Bible.
Example (1)
In Romans chapter one, it is written: "For the wrath of God is
revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in
unrighteousness." How is the wrath of God revealed? Verse
24 says: "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in
the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies among
themselves." `Gave them up', this means that the grace of God
has left them, that they were forsaken to their own uncleanness
to dishonour their bodies. In such abnormality they debase the
flesh.
The honour of the body is to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
But if it is abused then it is a dishonour to the body. "For this
reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their
women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman,
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burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing
what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of
their error which was due" (Rom. 1: 26,27).
In his Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul also spoke about the
debased minds, and about things which are not fitting. So,
when he says: 'exchanged the natural use for what is against
nature', it means that homosexuality is against nature.
Furthermore, he says that it is an act of uncleanness, an act that
dishonours of the body and that is worthy of punishment. Thus,
according to the teachings of Saint Paul, homosexuality is not
only an act against nature, as was created by our Lord, it is
shameful and abominable.
Example (2)
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 6, the Apostle
says: "Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters,
nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites... will inherit
the kingdom of God" (1Cor. 6: 9). None of these will inherit
the kingdom of God.
As for living in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, he also
says: "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is
outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins
against his own body" (1Cor. 6: 18). What is meant by `his
own body'? It means that he is sinning against the temple of the
Holy Spirit. The Apostle says: "... do you not know that your
body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you
have from God, and you are not your own?" (1Cor. 6: 19).
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Your body is not your own; your body is the temple of the Holy
Spirit.
When a person sins against his body, it means that he is
separating himself from the Holy Spirit. Light and darkness
cannot exist together in one place. From the beginning God
separated light from darkness (Gen. 1). Therefore, we cannot
have the Holy Spirit abiding in our body if we sin against it by
what is shameful.
The Apostle says: "...glorify God in your body and in your
spirit which are God's" (1Cor. 6: 20), meaning that both the
body and the spirit belong to God, and hence should be
glorified. Also, in chapter 3 he adds: "Do you not know that
you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in
you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy
him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are"
(1Cor. 3: 16,17).
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 6, the Apostle
also says: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of
Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them
members of a harlot? Certainly not!" (1Cor. 6: 15). We are
the members of Christ because we are His body and His bones.
Saint Paul says: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in
me" (Gal. 2: 20). So, if Christ lives in us, how can we abuse
our bodies in such ways, how can we defile the members of
Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit? How can we abuse
and dishonour the holy image of God by living in the lust of the
flesh? This is against holy life and against chastity.
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Example (3)
In his Epistle, Saint Jude says: "...as Sodom and Gomorra, and
the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having
given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after
strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the
vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7).
Example (4)
In the First Epistle to Timothy, the Apostle says: "...knowing
this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the
lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for
the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and
murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for
sodomites" (1Tim. 1: 9,10). Saint Paul includes 'sodomites', or
homosexuals, among the murderers, the lawless and the
ungodly.
Hence, this sin was condemned in both the Old and the
New Testaments. So, can we disobey God in order to please
some sinners? Is it not better to show them the right way than
to let them lose their sanctity and be punished in eternal life? Or
let them depend on the Church making this matter lawful?
Homosexuality Is Against Health
I think that in our present day, our Lord God has given us a
grand warning in the form of AIDS. A warning to those who
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subject their bodies to such defilement. Unfortunately people
are no longer fearful, even of such a dreadful disease.
Homosexuality Is Against ManHood
How can a person who is used as a woman be called a man?
He is deprived of his manhood and is not considered to be a
man any longer.
Homosexuality Is Against the Good Name of Christianity
What may be said of Christianity in its supreme ideology?
Christianity teaches the sublime ideas of spirituality. How can
other religions have any idea about this spiritual life if they
know that there is homosexuality in the Church and that the
Church is discussing whether it is wrong or right?
Church life should be a life of holiness. A holy person is a
member of the Church, but the unholy is not a member of the
Church at all. And this is what was mentioned in the Book of
Acts, chapter 2, verse 47, where it is written: "And the Lord
added to the church daily those who were being saved". The
Lord added to the Church those who were being saved because
the Church is a congregation of Saints; an abundance of
holiness.
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Homosexuality Is Against the Holy Sacraments
What can we say about the renewal of life in Christianity if such
defilement exists inside the Church? How can we say that we
received the new life? ... the renewal of life? ... the new birth?
What kind of new birth have we received if we have such
defilement among our members? What can we say about
salvation? What kind of salvation is it? About baptism, what
kind of baptism is it? What can we say about holy Chrism when
we are faced with such defilement?
Homosexuality is against the Sacrament of Marriage, and it is
also against self-control. People who suffer homosexuality
should be ashamed. If they knew the meaning of spiritual life,
they could not confess that they are homosexuals. It is quite
inconceivable that anyone can lose their sense of shame and
openly confess to being homosexuals. It is even more
unbelievable is that such people ask for their human rights as
homosexuals.
Rights For Homosexuals
What rights are there for homosexuals? Their only right is to
be led to repentance. But to live in such defilement of the
body, in such dishonour of the body, in such abomination and
sin, and then ask for their so called human rights unthinkable!
Furthermore, being encouraged and defended by some of the
members of the Church, they ask to be ordained priesthood,
while still practising homosexuality, this is simply beyond belief!
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Homosexual Priests
What may members of the congregation say when they know
that their priest is homosexual, and that he holds the Body and
Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ?
How can a homosexual priest lead the congregation to holy life
without having repented, without having confessed, without
changing his life? If he cannot repent how can he guide others
to repentance? If he cannot control himself, how can he guide
others to such control? If he cannot enjoy the beauty of holy
life, how can he speak about holy life? If he leads a carnal
life, how can he guide others to live a spiritual life?
What will be said about the teachings of Christianity if such
abominations take place in the Church itself?
Homosexuality and Love
It is claimed that homosexuality is simply love between man and
man. No, my brothers, love should be spiritual and pure. We
love others in purity. We love others in the Spirit. And loving
others should not be against our love for God, because our
Lord Jesus Christ said `He who loves father, son, wife, sister, or
brother, more than Me, is not worthy of me, is not worthy to be
My disciple.' We cannot love any other person more than our
Lord Jesus Christ. Every love which we have should be love in
the Lord. We love in the Lord, not outside, not against.
It is not love, but lust, and there is a great difference
between love and lust. The word 'love' is not suitable for such
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a relation, because in the Gospel, we say `God is love.' How
can we say `Homosexuality is love'? It is not love, it is a
physical lust, lust of the flesh, and a lust which should be
corrected.
If a man loves another man, can he abuse the man whom he
loves? Is this love or destruction? If a man really loves another
man, can he lead this man to lose his eternity and be punished in
eternal life? Is it love to make another lose his image, the image
of God?
Homosexual by Nature
Another excuse given is that such a person is born that
way. If he is born that way, we need to heal him, to purge
him, to correct him, to pray for him, to guide him to repentance,
to cure him medically and spiritually. But not to say to him:
"Alright, we accept you as a member of the Church and give
you the Body and Blood of our Lord." It cannot be said that a
person is homosexual by nature. Surely, it is the result of a
traumatic experience in life, and this can be corrected.
We have in the history of the Church many saints who were
fornicators before being saints, before repentance, and they
were corrected. They were not homosexuals, but they were
fornicators; the same sin but not abnormal. Saint Augustine is a
good example. Saint Moses the Black is another example.
Saint Pelagia is another example, and there are many others,
and through the grace of God, through the work of pastoral
care, they were corrected. We cannot accept homosexuality,
for if we do, it means that we allow such an abomination, it
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means that we permit that person to remain in sin and not
repent. Moreover, it means that homosexuals have rights, one
of which is to be ordained as priests.
The Spiritual Way of Pleasing Others
We cannot flatter people at the expense of the
commandment of God. May I read you one or two verses
from the First Epistle to the Galatians: "For do I now persuade
men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still
pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Gal. 1:
10). If 1 go on pleasing men in contradiction with the
commandment of God, then I will not be the servant of Christ.
If I want to please men in a correct way, then I should
guide them to repentance. This is the spiritual way of
pleasing others, not to let them stay in sin and perish.
What is the benefit in pleasing other if such pleasure leads
to condemnation? In the heavenly kingdom, in the kingdom of
God, no person who lives in defilement is allowed to enter. No
fornicators, nor sodomites, may enter the kingdom of our Lord,
as is clearly expressed in the teachings of Saint Paul, Saint Jude,
Saint Peter, and many others?
Once I read a book written by one of the clergymen -I do not
want to say, one of the bishops- defending homosexuality. He
began to attack Saint Paul and say that he is abnormal. Can we
please men to the extent where we speak against Apostles?
Against a person that was elected by God Himself in a
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miraculous apparition, and chosen to be the Apostle for the
Gentiles; to be our Apostle, for we were Gentiles. Is it
acceptable that we try to please men, even if it means going
against the teachings of the Lord?
I now return to the first words I said to you. I said I am happy,
I am glad, to be among the persons who are chosen to witness
to the Lord. Our Lord said: "But you shall receive power when
the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses
to Me." As for homosexuals, He said that without repentance,
they will perish. This judgement of our Lord was repeated
twice in the chapter of Saint Luke's Gospel, chapter 13, verses 3
and 5. It is written: "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you
will all likewise perish" (v. 3), and in verse 5: "I tell you, no;
but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
So, can we say to such sinners, to whom our Lord said:
"...unless you repent you will all likewise perish", `no, no, no,
we will find excuses for you. The Church loves you and wants
to search for excuses, so that you may remain in sin and not
perish?' It is not within our power, I repeat, it is not within our
power to justify sins, or to please sinners. Instead, we should
be trying to guide them to repentance.
The Way to Repentance
Initially, a person who sins may be embarrassed, and cannot
confess to this abomination. However, if that person openly
declares his homosexuality, and begins to seek his rights as a
homosexual, without seeking repentance, and even goes so far
as to ask to be ordained priesthood, then this is an outrage.
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However, if we make it clear to that person that such actions
are sinful and against the will of God, then perhaps his
conscience may act against him, always condemning him and
reproaching him: `You should repent. You must change your
ways'.
The Authority Of Clergymen
In the Gospel of Saint Matthew, chapter 18, our Lord Jesus
Christ gave His servants, the Apostles, the priests, authority,
saying: "I say to you whatever you bind on earth will be bound
in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in
heaven" (Matt. 18: 18). Whatever you bind or loose should be
according to the Bible, in harmony with the teachings of the
Bible, in obedience to the commandments of God, but whatever
you bind or loose against the Bible will not be accepted. How?
If we read the Epistle to the Galatians, chapter 1, verses 8 and
9, we find some very fearful words. It is written: "But even if
we (the Apostles), or an angel from heaven, preach any other
Gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be
accursed' (Gal 1:8). This is also repeated in verse 9, "If anyone
preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received,
let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:9).
Our duty as Clergymen is to guide people through the
commandments of God. We have no power, nor any
authority, to give declare laws against the laws of God. So,
why did our Lord give us authority, and how can this authority
to bind and loose be explained? Perhaps we can find an
explanation in what was written in the prophecy of Malachi,
chapter 2, verse 7: "For the lips of a priest should keep
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knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for
he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts" (Mal 2:7). People
take the law of the Lord from the priest's mouth because, when
it comes to God's teachings, he is more knowledgeable than any
other member of the congregation. He is the teacher; the guide.
So he binds according to the law of God which he knows quite
well, and he looses according to the law of God, and never in
contradiction, as Saint Paul said: "If we, or an angel from
heaven..." As Saint Basil of Caesaria Cappadocia said: "Saint
Paul dared to anathematize angels."
The Grave Responsibility Of The Clergy
What then should we say to people? There is a commandment
given by God in the Old Testament. It is repeated twice in the
same prophecy of Ezekiel, in chapter 3, and again in chapter 33.
May I read you some of the words said by God to Ezekiel: "Son
of man, I have made you a watchman (to watch people) for the
house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give
them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, 'You shall
surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the
wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked
man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will require at
your hand" (Ezek. 3: 17,18).
We are pastors. How can we suffer that the blood of these
wicked persons who will perish be required from us? We
should warn them and say to them: "This way leads you to
destruction". And at the same time God says: "Yet, if you warn
the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from
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his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have
delivered your soul' (Ezek. 3: 19).
The same words are also mentioned in chapter 33, because our
Lord God wants to emphasise this point. "So you, son of man:
I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel, therefore
you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.
When I say to the wicked, `O wicked man, you shall surely die!'
and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that
wicked man shall die in his iniquity,. but his blood I will
require at your hand" (Ezek. 33: 7,8).
We must fear such condemnation. We must warn the wicked
and say to them: `This is the way of death. If you walk
according to the flesh you will die; you should obey the
commandments of God.' If we love our children in a spiritual
way we should guide them to repentance; we should try to
purge them, to cleanse them, to heal them, to save them, not to
justify their sins. This is not good for them nor for us. They
will perish and their blood will be required at our hands.
The following are some of the questions asked by members of
the congregation and the answers given by His Holiness:
Question 1
We repeat in the Nicene Creed, I believe in one holy
Catholic Apostolic Church". As the Catholic and Apostolic
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Church is divided, how can we claim it to be holy? How
can holiness and division go together?
Of course this is a tragedy, and for this reason we are trying to
work toward Christian unity. We are trying to be one in faith,
and one in theology and in doctrine. Our Lord God does not
accept this division because in the Gospel of Saint John chapter
10, which we call the chapter of the Good Shepherd, it is clear
that He wants the Church to be one flock, for One Shepherd,
and this Shepherd is our Lord Jesus Christ. And also in Saint
John's Gospel, chapter 17, He asks the Father for His disciples,
for the whole Church, to be one, saying: "...that they may be
one just as We are one." There is no unity more mystical than
the unity between the Father and the Son. Of course,
separation and division is not a holy matter and for this reason,
we are working for the unity of the Church.
Question 2
While we are alive, is it not possible to enjoy bodily
pleasures without hurting others, while striving for spiritual
ascendancy?
For this reason we said that this bodily pleasure, according to
your expression, is enjoyed in marriage and between male and
female, but not against nature, not against the commandment of
God. As we enjoy bodily pleasures in eating food and
delicacies, and control ourselves in the days of fasting, a person
may also enjoy bodily pleasures to a certain extent, not to be
against his spirit, not to be against the commandment of God,
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not to be against nature, not to be against purity of heart, and
many pleasures are given to us, but not abnormal pleasures.
Question 3
How can we bring healing to people of homosexual
tendency who wish to be healed of that tendency and to
walk the way of holiness? How may we help them?
The first point on which I spoke was that the Church cannot say
that their wrong way is acceptable, this is against the essence of
the teachings the Bible. We cannot pass their acts as acceptable
behaviour, and excuse them for supposedly being born that way.
Sin is sin, whatever the reasons are.
In order to help them, firstly say to them: "This is a sin. This is
an abomination", and then let them enjoy the spiritual life. A
person who tastes the sweetness of spiritual life may leave such
a way of abomination. Because people are always occupied
with worldly matters, they do not give time for prayer, for
contemplation, for spiritual songs, for reading the Bible, for
reading spiritual books, so their spirits become very weak, and
such weak spirits cannot resist temptation. If we try to
strengthen their spirits, to let them practise spiritual ways, as I
said, they get better.
Also, we must pray for them, fast for them, celebrate Holy
Masses for them, we must try to help them by using all spiritual
means. If there is a situation that requires medical treatment,
then let them try it. But, whatever the circumstances, we
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cannot justify their sins. It is not within our authority as
clergymen or pastors.
Question 4
Does the Church see the sexual desire in marriage between
husband and wife as lust or good appetite?
Saint Augustine said that it is something attractive from nature
to help the act. First marriage was for giving birth to children
and to let the world continue, but if there is nothing attractive in
such a matter, perhaps people will not have sexual intercourse.
As with food, if food is not delicious and of good appetite (I
may use appetite here for food), people will not eat and they
will die. So God put something attractive in the nature of these
matters in order that the act may be completed. But some
people who have full love for God may not practise such
matters very frequently.
There is something said by Saint Paul in the seventh chapter of
the first Epistle to the Corinthians, he said: "Do not deprive one
another except with consent for a time, that you may give
yourselves to fasting and prayer, and come together again so
that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-
control" (1Cor. 7: 5). And at the beginning he said that when
we practise fasting we need self-control to abstain from food.
At the same time, if a person, if a husband or wife, can be away
from the other partner, in order to practise fasting and prayer in
a useful way for the spirit, it should be in consent. The two
should approve of the matter, if not, we cannot cause offence
for the other partner; this will not be "with consent".
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You cannot take everything that your body craves. Solomon,
the wisest person, said that he gave himself all kinds of pleasure,
and what was the conclusion? I will read what Solomon said:
"Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not
withhold my heart from any pleasure" (Eccl. 2: 10). And what
was the end? It was against him and he found that "all was
vanity and grasping for the wind" (Eccl. 2: 11). A person may
take from the pleasures of the world to a certain extent, yet self-
control from time to time.
Question 5
How should we relate our Lord's assurance that the wheat
and tares will continue together until the end, to the stress
on all members of the Church being called to be saints?
Of course, the tares are not members in the Church. The wheat
are the elect and the tares are the work of the devil, as our Lord
God explained this parable in the thirteenth chapter of Saint
Matthew's Gospel, saying that the wheat is the work of God
and the tares the work of the devil.
There is sin and there is holy life. Of course, we cannot say that
the kingdom of God covers the whole world, but the work of
the Church is to have plenty of wheat and to guide the tares to
be wheat if possible. This is our duty; to correct others. But of
course our Lord Jesus Christ spoke about the tares in this
parable as the persons who will perish (not to be corrected).
But in the Church we have only wheat.
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The Church in its identity is a group of saints worshipping God
together. They are holy vessels in which the Holy Spirit works.
The definition of the Church is people who are the image of
God, who are the true sons of God, who always keep the image
of God, have communion with the Holy Spirit, and lead holy
lives. These are the true members of the Church; tares are not
the true members of the Church.
Question 6
Can we suggest that different branches of one whole may
not be evil but that they may all be partakers of God's
truth?
Of course we should distinguish between evil and good. There
are many kinds of good ways, as for example, marriage and
virginity. They are two holy ways which guide to God. But we
cannot say that chastity and fornication are two ways which
guide to God. Of course not. There may be a kind of variety
but inside holiness and not outside holiness, and this is
acceptable.
For this reason we have different branches in the holy Church,
as for example when Saint Paul spoke about the gifts of the
Holy Spirit in chapter 12 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians.
He said there are different gifts but the Spirit is one. In the
Church there are Apostles, there are teachers, there are priests,
there are prophets, there are ordinary persons. All these may be
different in rank, but all of them are holy.
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You say "may all be partakers of God's truth". Partakers of
God's truth inside holiness and not outside holiness. Our Lord
God said that the good earth may give thirty, sixty and one
hundred. These are degrees, but all of them are fruitful and
good, although they vary. But as for the plants which were
surrounded by thorns and withered away, we cannot say they
were good, nor was the land from which the seeds were taken
by sparrows.
Question 7
If a homosexual goes to the church and repents and
abstains from homosexual activity, how is he viewed in the
eyes of God if desires about men remain?
I want to say that sometimes repentance may take steps. The
first step of repentance is to abstain from the action of sin.
Sometimes the person abstains from the action of sin and at the
same time still has the desire. He is now clean in flesh but not
clean in spirit.
The second step is to change his mind and change his desires.
In the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 12, the Apostle says: "I
beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that
you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to
God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be
conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of
your mind" (Rom. 12: 1). A person may have another concept,
another idea, another way of thinking about the world. He does
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not look at sin as pleasure but as defilement. He may change
his mind, and in changing his mind he may change his desires
also. It may take steps.
The first step of repentance is to leave sin, not to do it. But
the perfection of repentance is to hate sin, and sin will not
be suitable for the person's new nature in our Lord Jesus
Christ.
Our great teacher Saint John the Apostle said that the son of
God cannot sin: cannot, because he is the son of God. His
nature has changed. This is the renewal of life. As pastors,
our work is to guide people toward the renewal of their life,
to stress on a new point, to give them practice in spiritual life.
Day by day they find spiritual life not only acceptable but also
favourable and they find their pleasure in God, their
pleasure in spiritual life.
Question 8
Does the Coptic Church have a view on the use of artificial
contraception?
Yes, we accept it if it is not a way of abortion. This means if it
is used to avoid, rather than terminate, a pregnancy. However,
once a pregnancy has occurred, than it is a sin to abort the baby,
even if its age is only one hour. So, it is acceptable only to
prevent pregnancy.

#31 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 11:08 AM

In my opinion, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III speaks very well here:

It is claimed that homosexuality is simply love between man and
man. No, my brothers, love should be spiritual and pure. We
love others in purity. We love others in the Spirit. And loving
others should not be against our love for God, because our
Lord Jesus Christ said `He who loves father, son, wife, sister, or
brother, more than Me, is not worthy of me, is not worthy to be
My disciple.' We cannot love any other person more than our
Lord Jesus Christ. Every love which we have should be love in
the Lord. We love in the Lord, not outside, not against.
It is not love, but lust, and there is a great difference
between love and lust. The word 'love' is not suitable for such
a relation, because in the Gospel, we say `God is love.' How
can we say `Homosexuality is love'? It is not love, it is a
physical lust, lust of the flesh, and a lust which should be
corrected. If a man loves another man, can he abuse the man whom he
loves? Is this love or destruction? If a man really loves another
man, can he lead this man to lose his eternity and be punished in
eternal life? Is it love to make another lose his image, the image
of God?

One of the most powerful arguments for homosexuality in the secular imagination, is that it is all about "love". I remember at university, I was myself misled into owning and wearing a t-shirt on which stood the motto: "love knows no gender", or something similar. A recent film, "Brokeback Mountain", tries to convey the same message quite successfully, if one is not aware of what "love" really means. Interestingly, the same movie also appeals to the "natural" argument, by casting its protagonists amid lavish scenes of beautiful countryside. In my estimation, the appeals to nature and to love are the two most powerful weapons in the philosophical armoury of gay-rights activists. Interestingly, the Marquis de Sade also makes frequent appeals to "Nature" in his pseudo-philosophical, grossly perverted and pornographic novels. This is why I agree with Owen entirely that intelligent reasons must be articulated by us as traditional Christians as to why homosexual relations are neither loving nor natural. These reasons do exist within the wealth of Orthodox literature, and there is no reason to become anxiously dogmatic or take a fundamentalist stance on what has been known and accepted by the Church for centuries. Homosexuality is an illness, like all sin. The Church has the power to cure it, if only in helping people so afflicted to live lives of chastity with this particular cross to bear. After all, "normal" sexual desires aren't exactly easy to live with and to confront - or more appropriately, perhaps, to transform - in a Christian way, are they?

In Christ
Byron

#32 Michael Bauman

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 08:40 PM

Unfortunately, not everyone either knows or cares what the traditional stance of the Church is. Already here in the U.S. ordained clergy are publically advocating a more 'merciful' response, i.e, acceptance of homosexuality as a part of human nature that should not be proscribed. This is exactly the kind of thing that Fr. Raphael was speaking to on the erosion of the Christian mind.

The errosion is not new and has been going on for sometime, unfortunately, it seems by episcopaly benign neglect of the moral standard of some of their brothers and some of their priests.

#33 Owen Jones

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 12:26 AM

Where are these priests? Who are they? Do they have the blessing of their bishop to say this? Is nobody challenging them on this?

#34 Michael Bauman

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 09:04 PM

Fr. Robert Arida: http://www.pravmir.c...onse-to-myself/ and Fr. Alexis Vinogradov: http://www.ocanews.o...dov7.12.11.html

Yes, there have been several vigorous responses from other clergy, but not the bishops of the priests.

#35 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 09:52 PM

Interesting that the continuing meme of "gay people do not choose to be gay" keeps being repeated. I am not convinced that this is true. There may be a possibility that for a small subset this may, in fact be the case (conjecturally speaking since nothing has really been proven), it says NOTHING about the supposedly "bisexual" individuals who obviously, by definition, have a choice but insist on having the same recognition as those who supposedly have no choice. Therefore, for some it is indeed a CHOICE. And if we are to believe the Scriptural testimony, it is not a good choice, and should certainly be treated by the Church in the same manner as it treats any other who chooses to continue to practice a particular sin. To not acknowledge it a sin is to do a disservice to the individual, be it homosexual or heterosexual sex outside the context of a church-blessed marriage. Sin is sin and to call it something other than sin does nobody any good. To deny a sickness is not going to cure it. If we say cancer is not a disease then why bother to treat it?

If homosexuality is indeed an incurable disease, how best to minister to it? THAT seems like a worthwhile discussion to this bear of little brain.

Herman the Pooh

#36 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 02:24 AM

I didn't see anything outrageous in these articles. Unlike Herman, I am convinced there is very little choice, if any, in being attracted to same or opposite sex. There is choice in how one deals with it.

And so I agree with the following


If homosexuality is indeed an incurable disease, how best to minister to it? THAT seems like a worthwhile discussion to this bear of little brain.

Herman the Pooh



#37 Max Percy

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 03:16 AM

I think, George, that's because secular society totally lost any concept of sin, so it looks at things from the perspective of whether it's harmful for others or not, and harm is considered only from legal and materialistic point of view - the concept of moral or spiritual harm has been gradually dismissed. So, pushed by gay activists and their propaganda, the society gradually stopped considering homosexuality as being harmful. I expect we will be seeing more of this trend in the future, groups of people with all sorts of addictions wil start claiming that their addictions are harmless for the society and because of that the society and the law should not consider their addictions as something illegal, bad and harmful.


I think we also have to acknowledge that we have done a really poor job articulating a theology of sexuality. We have done a good job of touting ethics like in the so-called "Manhattan Declaration" but there really is not a clear theology of what sex and sexuality are for or mean. What is the relationship between agape and eros? It is entirely possible that I am blind and/or stupid, but I must confess that Fr. Arida's questions seem to me to be fairly reasonable questions. Will our bishops provide answers or guidance? It is moments like this that make our jurisdictional squabbling seem particularly petty when priests and the world are asking for guidance and get apparent silence or reproach.

Edited by Max Percy, 18 July 2011 - 03:46 AM.


#38 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 03:30 AM

I couldn't agree more with Max's post.

Perhaps it is because I am very misguided, but it is my impression that in some way agape is eros transformed. But eros untransformed/ repressed leads to numerous neuroses, sometimes even physical ailments.

My apologies, I am sure this is not theologically correct to put it this way, but as Max said, the theology of relationship between sexuality (sexual energy, not necessarily sexual acts) and spirituality is far from clear.

#39 Kosta

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 04:01 AM

Gay marriage is simply an artificial construct, politicians wanted it to create a new voting bloc. Eros and love have nothing to do with marriage. Where are these mythical concepts found in the wedding service? Why are the fastest growing segment of lesbians HETEROSEXUAL divorced women?
We live in a post christian society now, this gay marriage fraud will cease as soon as the state which invented it crumbles, and the western world will crumble soon.

#40 Dcn Alexander Haig

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 05:53 AM

Eros and love have nothing to do with marriage.


I don't think this statement holds up - whilst a marriage based only on eros is quite clearly not Christian, it is still a part of it. We see in the lives of the saints, however, that for those who were married the sexual part of their marriage became less and less important.

As for same sex attraction, the teaching is clear: sex outside of (Christian) marriage is sinful. This is as much true for heterosexuals as homosexuals. Further, it is possible for sex within marriage to be sinful - a wedding service does not "legalise" sex whenever and wherever the couple desire it. In any case, being homosexual is not a sin: engaging in sex outside of marriage is.

We are all of us given crosses which we must carry - these do not (necessarily) imply sin on our part but are the result of living in a fallen world. Someone may be born with a propensity towards being violent - any violence he commits is still sinful even though it is natural - just because something is natural does not mean it is to the glory of God. Likewise, homosexuality might be natural, but sex outside of marriage is not to the glory of God nor leading towards salvation. This is a great cross for someone to be given, especially in our permissive and anything-goes society.

Please forgive my ramblings.

With love in Xp

Alex




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